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By Jeremy Schiffres, Daily and Sunday Freeman, Kingston, N.Y.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Pardon my absence

It's been about two weeks since my last post. Sorry about that, faithful readers (all four or five of you). Summer tends to be the busy season at work - not because the pace of the news picks up, but because people in my office take vacation and those of us left behind have more to do - so blogging has taken a back seat.

Had I done any blogging since July 20, I probably would have said some of the following:

* Michael Jackson has been dead for more than a month now. Is there really nothing more important for cable TV news to be covering? And how many times is MSNBC going to rerun Martin Bashir's 2003 interview with Jackson (the one in which Jacko famously defended sharing his bed with young boys and denied having multiple plastic surgeries)? I don't think it's an exaggeration to say I've come across reruns of this thing more than 20 times since Jackson died in late June. Enough already! And enough of airing allegedly "new" stories about Jackson every night. Nobody cares anymore ... except, of course, the cable TV news outlets.

* Do these ridiculous Obama "birthers" really think they're gaining political traction by alleging the president was born in Kenya (a bogus allegation that's been debunked over and over again)? They're embarrassing themselves and probably hurting mainstream Republicans (who are as mortified by these people as the rest of us are). They do, however, make for some entertaining television, with none being funnier than convicted former Nixon aide (and former Dutchess County prosecutor) G. Gordon Liddy saying he knows Obama was born in Africa because there's a signed affidavit to that effect from the president's step-grandmother, who claims to have witnessed the blessed event. Never mind the president's Hawaiian birth certificate and his 1961 birth announcement in a Honolulu newspaper. If G. Gordon Liddy says Obama is a foreigner because some long-dead woman allegedly swore to it, then it must be true.

* So it turns out David "Big Papi" Ortiz was juicing in 2003 and quite possibly was on steroids when the Red Sox reversed their 86-year curse and won the 2004 World Series. I can't say I'm surprised - I mean just look at Ortiz's arms! - but I'm also not ready to cry foul and demand that Boston's title be wiped from the books. With steroid use undoubtedly rampant in baseball at that time, doesn't it seem likely that several players on teams the Bosox beat during the regular season also were using? And isn't it possible that at least some members of the Angels, Yankees and Cardinals - the three teams Boston beat in the postseason that year - were on the stuff, too? My point being: Perhaps all the cheaters offset each other, making the playing field more level than one might think. That isn't meant to justify the behavior - I still think players who use banned substances should be thrown out of the league forever - but it does lend credence to argument that at least some records from baseball's so-called Steroid Era should be allowed to stand.

* Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. wants to raise rates again? The company just imposed huge increases in the amounts it charges customers for the delivery of electricity and natural gas, and now it's asking to impose additional hikes starting about 11 months from now? Un-freakin'-believable ... and arrogant beyond description. If the utility truly is having financial problems (a claim that I don't find very convincing), then it needs to find ways to cut costs, just like most businesses do when money is tight. Making customers pay more is not the answer.

* I can't write an entire concert review in the confines of one paragraph, but let me just say this: Green Day is the best live rock act on the road at this point is popular music history. I saw the band at Madison Square Garden a week ago, and I was absolutely blown away. These guys have a sound that's built on pure energy. They have a front man (Billie Joe Armstrong) with incredible stage presence. And the band's songs, despite alternately masquerading as punk and heavy metal pieces, are, at their core, just great pop tunes with infectious melodies. I've known about Green Day since it stormed onto the world stage with its infamous "mud fight" performance at Woodstock '94 in Saugerties 15 years ago, but I didn't really start paying attention to the band until my son, who's 15, started listening to its albums a few years ago. I went to the MSG show (unfortunately without my son, who's at summer camp) more or less to see what all the hype was about. I expected to come away with a "no big deal" attitude, but instead, I walked onto 7th Avenue at 11:45 p.m. on July 27 a true convert (much the same way I didn't truly appreciate Bruce Springsteen until seeing him live in December 1980). I'm sold on Green Day, and I truly believe that anyone else who sees this band live for the first time will feel the same way. Billie Joe and the boys have wrapped up the Northeast leg of their current tour, but when they come around again - whether later this year or on their next road trip - spend the money, take the time, and see them in concert. You won't regret it.

OK. That catches me up, I think.

I need to go cut my grass now. And you probably have more important things to do than sit in front of a computer reading my ramblings.



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